This Air fryer Shrimp is juicy, succulent, perfectly seasoned with simple pantry spices and ready in under 10 minutes. Perfect to be made into tacos, bowls, salads or quesadillas.
I wanted an air fryer shrimp recipe that is wonderfully sweet, infused with deep spicy flavor but still tender and succulent.
Although shrimp is easily made in a skillet, like this shrimp and broccoli stir fry, air frying is hands free cooking and it cooks perfect every single time, like the air fryer breaded shrimp. It is fast, easy, healthy, flavorful and is delicious made into a lunch or meatless dinner for lent.
Refrigerated or fresh shrimp that you see in the grocery store is almost always frozen shrimp that has been defrosted and put on display. So, you're better off buying frozen prawns and defrosting just before cooking.
Spices lose their flavor over time, even when stored in tightly sealed jars. Whole spices will keep fresh for about a year, but flavor of ground spices will depreciate, in a matter of months. You can extend the shelf life by storing in the freezer or buy them in small batches.
Why this recipe works?
The unique muscle structure of shrimp requires cooking it quickly, so developing flavor can be tricky. Here, I use a simple marinade - a mixture of oil, spices and salt, that clings to each shrimp and impart maximum flavor. When spices are cooked along with oil, a process called blooming, it intensifies the flavor, producing complex notes.
The hot air evenly circulates all around the shrimp, cooking it quickly. This allows it to cook fast and perfectly golden brown in just minutes.
Scroll down to the recipe card below for full information on ingredients and amounts.
- Shrimp - I used thawed frozen shrimp that are patted dry, with the tails on for prettier presentation.
- Seasoning - Basic pantry spices like cayenne, chili powder, cumin, garlic powder and salt.
- Oil - It distributes all the flavors evenly over the flesh, to make it taste better than ever like in BBQ salmon.
Pro tip: Flavor compounds like spices are oil soluble, which gives a better, more even distribution. Oil also helps the shrimp cook more evenly, providing a buffer between the hot air blown from top and the surface of the prawns.
How to make?
You can find full printable recipe below, but here is a quick overview of the procedure along with step-by-step photos.
- Prep- Remove any veins or shells from the shrimp. I like to leave the tails on for a pretty presentation. Pat them dry thoroughly using paper towels.
2. Season - Add chili powder, cumin powder, garlic powder, cayenne pepper powder, black pepper, salt and oil.
3 & 4. Mix - Toss everything together, until thoroughly combined.
5. Air Fry - Place in a preheated 400 degree air fryer and cook for 7 to 8 minutes.
Pro tip: How long to cook? I used large sized shrimp (21 to 25 per pound), that cooks in 7 to 8 minutes whereas medium ones will take shorter time and jumbo sized will take about a minute longer. The cooking time also depends on the size and brand of the air fryer used.
How to serve?
This is delicious made into a plethora of dishes for dinner, lunch or appetizer. Here are few suggestions:
- Appetizer - Serve with cilantro sauce, avocado crema, creamy salsa dip or ranch dressing for dipping.
- Sandwich - Make shrimp sandwich with avocado.
- Salads - Toss in your favorite green salads or make lettuce wraps.
- Tacos - These are delicious made into air fryer shrimp tacos along with your favorite taco fixins.
- Burrito bowls - Make a bowl with cilantro rice, avocado, cooked corn, black beans, cilantro and pico de gallo or salsa.
How to store leftovers?
- Fridge - Leftovers can be stored in an air tight container for up to 3 days.
- Freeze - Freeze in zip lock bag or freezer safe container for up to one month.
- Reheat - Reheat in the microwave or air fryer for about 2 minutes.
- Don't overcrowd - We used 6 quart Instant Vortex air fryer and was able to cook one pound per batch. Cook in batches if using a larger quantity.
- Don't overcook - Over cooking them might make them rubbery.
- Cook in a single layer - This ensures that they don't steam and cooks fast.
- Pat dry - Make sure to pat dry well with paper towels so the oil and spices will stick to them.
I do not recommend frozen prawns since the oil and seasonings will slide right away. Thaw them first before making using in the air fryer shrimp recipe. They take a few minutes to thaw under running water in a bowl of water for 10 to 15 minutes.
Place frozen ones in the basket and cook until the ice melts. Pat dry with paper towels and use in your recipe.
One of the easiest ways to identify is from the color change. It will go from grey color and turn pink or reddish in color. They also curl up into the letter C when cooked.
More shrimp dishes
Air Fryer Shrimp
Air Fryer used
- Pat shrimp dry with paper towels. Toss with all ingredients in a bowl and stir to combine well.
- Preheat air fryer to 400°F for 8 minutes. When hot, place shrimp in a single layer and cook for 7 to 8 minutes or cooked through and tender.Pro tip: How long to cook? I used large sized shrimp (21 to 25 per pound), that cooks in 7 to 8 minutes whereas medium ones will take shorter time and jumbo sized will take about a minute longer. The cooking time also depends on the size and brand of the air fryer used.
- Serve with lime wedges.
Nutritional information, based on third-party calculations, should be seen as estimates, not guarantees, as various factors like product types, brands, processing methods, and more can alter the nutritional content in recipes.
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